Defense Secretary Hagel not told by Israel of reports of chemical arms use


US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon speak during a helicopter tour above the Golan Heights, on April 22, 2013. Hagel met his counterpart to put the finishing touches on a major arms deal and for talks on Syria's civil war and the Iranian nuclear threat.



Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that Israel did not tell him during three days of meetings about their assessment that President Assad had used chemical arms on Syrian rebels. 

“They did not give me that assessment. I guess it wasn’t complete,” Hagel said. “I haven’t seen the specifics.”

Hagel spoke while still on a Middle East trip that began with a visit to Israel on Sunday. While there he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. 

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On Tuesday, Israel's Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, head of research for military intelligence, said "Our assessment is that the [Assad] regime has used and is using chemical weapons."

However, some US intelligence officials were not convinced by the report. A senior US defense official told Reuters that the assessment was "low confidence" and could not be used to determine US action.

Hagel said the US was performing its own intelligence assessment.

“This is serious business. You want to be as sure as you can be on these kind of things,” he said. “That’s not at all questioning other nations’ intelligence, but the United States relies on its own intelligence.”

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